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General Ethical Theories

Category One: General Ethical theory (Required question) 

I.  Two other “Philosophical” issues form the basis of ethics in nearly all ethical theories.  These two issues are worldview (ontology) and the view of the human being.  Show how these two other issues influence what is ethical good.  Give an example. 

Category Two: Ethical theories based on relativism:  (choose one)

2.) What is meant by individual ethical relativism?  What is meant by cultural ethical relativism?  Define each. Give an example of an ethical judgement based on each. 

3.)  Each of these forms of relativism might be said to have an argument for and an argument against.  Make these arguments for each of them. 

Ethical Theories based on a “transcendental” (beyond physical) reality:  (choose one) 

4.)  Religious beliefs insist “right” or “wrong” is the result of a divine command or revelation.  What then is the foundation of ethical good in such as religious viewpoint and can it be rationally defended? 

5.) Aristotle had a theory of virtue to be achieved by an ethical ideal of the “mean”.  What does this mean?  Show by an example taken from public life. 

6)  Immanuel Kant taught that the human mind was capable of understanding ethical duty.  This was a power of the mind beyond our ability to demonstrate good or evil scientifically.  Why can’t ethical good or evil be demonstrated scientifically according to Kant.  Hint: his view of the human mind is central to his ethical views. Name one of two works discussed in class where this theory is developed. 

Ethical Theories Based on a Material Only World (Choose one):

7.) Ethical good is the “greatest good for the greatest number of people”  What is the foundation of this ethical view?  Does it have a weakness? A strong point? Which English philosopher is famous for this theory of ethics?  Comment on him.

 8.) Ethical good is a “social contract”?  What does this mean?  Who makes the contract? 

Ethical Good as an “aesthetic” desirability (choose one)

9.) Ethics is founded in desirability or attractiveness (beauty as higher than just good) and thus it is a matter of creating the best lifestyle. In a sense this is the best we can do.  Creativity figures very high in this theory.  Present pro’s and con’s.  Name the nineteenth century philosopher who can be said to have started this outlook. 

10.)  One is always free to some extent even in the worst and most adverse circumstances.  because one always has some choice.  The human being always has some deep down ability to choose.   One can always make something of life and whatever one chooses is therefore good. The important thing is to be creative.  Which French philosopher proposes this radical freedom?  Pro’s and con’s. 

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